Series: The Lion and the Lamb
Message: The Love Paradox
Preacher: Tony Hunter
Reflection: Becky De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Adrian Peterson
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Isaiah 53 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: This description doesn’t match how I envision Jesus. At all. This chapter portrays a person utterly uncared for and unloved. It starts off by claiming that “He grew up . . . like a root out of dry ground,” which implies that He had no upbringing or nurturing. Other biblical passages make it clear that Mary was carefully chosen to be His mother (Luke 1:28) and took her job in raising Him seriously (Luke 2:51). She was often with Him, giving Him advice as mothers do (John 2:3-5) and was present when He died (John 19:26-27). Joseph, her husband, claimed Jesus as his own son. Remember the couple’s frantic search for Him when He disappeared and was later found teaching in the temple? (Luke 2:41-48). He was loved by His family, which appears to have included at least four brothers (Matthew 13:55).
It’s hard to know specifically what Jesus looked like, and I do remember sometimes being taught that he was unattractive physically—one Bible teacher went so far as to speculate that he had red hair, the ultimate in ugliness. (As a red-haired person myself I have never known whether to be pleased that Jesus might have shared my coloring or offended at the evident “proof” of His ugliness that this detail seems to confer.) A brief internet search confirmed that this is a somewhat popular theory, and certainly many classical paintings portray both Him and other biblical characters as having red hair. Now whether or not that means He was automatically ugly is up for debate. Tread softly.
And then there’s all this about being generally “despised and rejected by men” (Verse 3). Well sure, at the Cross that appears to have been true. But what about before that? Luke 2:52 says He “grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.” By all accounts, Jesus was a pretty popular guy. Shortly after birth He was visited by the wise men of the east who brought lavish gifts (Matthew 2:11). He had twelve disciples and could have had more if He’d wanted them (Mark 3:13-15). He was followed around constantly by masses of people who hung on His every word (Mark 5:24; John 6:2) and sometimes even had to sneak off to get some alone time (Matthew 5:1). A woman poured super expensive perfume from an alabaster jar onto His head (Matthew 26:6). There was the Triumphal Entry where crowds of excited people led Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). It doesn’t seem as if He was in fact a person “from whom men hide their faces” (Verse 3), not from the beginning anyway. My husband and I happened to be walking through Leicester Square in London in the late nineties when Leonardo di Caprio arrived for a movie premiere amidst a crowd of screaming, fainting fans. Jesus sounds like a movie star. A rock star.
But clearly this status did not last. He died as a criminal at the age of thirty-three, just three years after He’d begun His official work on earth. This week, we will look at the person of our Messiah and what His characteristics and sacrificial death mean for us.
Recalibrate: What ideas do you have about the kind of person Jesus was and where do these come from?
Respond: Make a list of every attribute you can think of Jesus possessing. Circle the ones you find most worthy of emulating and make them part of your daily life.
Research: Investigate what is known about the historical Jesus.
Remember: “But He was wounded for the wrong things we did. He was crushed for the evil things we did” (Isaiah 53:5, ICB).
Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, editor, and graphic designer. She is working on a PhD in research methods at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Hold your little one and read the Words to Remember for this week: “But He was wounded for the wrong things we did. He was crushed for the evil things we did” (Isaiah 53:5, ICB). Jesus suffered all of the things described in this chapter of Isaiah because of His undying love for us. Dwell on how much you love the one in your arms and magnify that love as big as you can imagine and realize that you are not even close to understanding how much God loves His children.
Take time to memorize the Words to Remember for the week: “But He was wounded for the wrong things we did. He was crushed for the evil things we did” (Isaiah 53:5, ICB). In Chapter 52 of Isaiah, we learn a lot about Jesus! We learn that He grew up, He wasn’t really good looking, He wasn’t liked by many people, and He suffered here on earth. We learn that He died but not because of anything wrong He did. Jesus died to make sure sin would never be able to capture any of us and keep us away from God! All of the wrong things we do or think, Jesus decided to make right by dying in our place. He is a good, good Savior!
This week we are going to read Isaiah 53 together. It is a powerful and beautiful prophecy about Jesus. You may have heard these verses before or you may not have. This is how the chapter begins: “Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed His powerful arm?” (Isaiah 53:1, NLT). This must be a pretty important verse—do you know why? It is quoted two times in the New Testament; this is what the Gospel of John says: “But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in Him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: ‘Lord, who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed His powerful arm?’’ (John 12:37-38, NLT). Despite all the amazing things that God did in the past, His people still didn’t believe, and when Jesus came and performed heaps of amazing miracles they still rejected Him. As we explore this amazing passage of Scripture this week—that is all about Jesus and His sacrifice—may we believe in what He is doing for us now and has done for us in the past.
I want you to do something right now. It doesn’t matter where you are, who is around you, or what else is going on. Close your eyes and picture Jesus standing in front of you. Did you do it? What did you see? What did He look like? Was His hair long, short, or medium length? Was He brown, white, or tan? When I think of Jesus I always imagine His eyes. In my imagination His eyes look tender, soft, and honest. You can tell a lot about people by what is in their eyes. Our text this week says, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” Jesus was simple. His aim wasn’t to impress us with His luscious curls, or six-pack abs. He wanted people to look into His eyes and see His heart. When was the last time you looked into the eyes of Jesus? The best way to do it is by opening up your Bible and reading the Gospels. I encourage you to try it!
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Adrian Peterson is the associate pastor at Burwood Adventist Community Church in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.